I did say that I’d be blogging Outbreak Company on a case-by-case basis, and this was a case where I thought it really merited a quick post. Last week’s soccer ep didn’t really make much much of an impression on me (seriously Shinichi – mixing up the teams never occurred to you?) but this was hilarious right from the get-go – and I mean quite literally, as the pre-open delivered probably the best joke of the series, and the preview voice-over was pretty good too.
I suppose that Minami-ke Okaeri joke is really only funny if you know the background. I thought the joke was actually about how Okaeri wasn’t as good as the original season (which is true, though it was quite good), which already had be guffawing. But when Matoba asked Shinichi if Okaeri was so bad and Shinichi answered, “The artists and animators were great. But the director was terrible!” I lost it hard – because of course Oikawa Kei was the director of Minami-ke as well as the O.C..
There were plenty of other good gags in this episode, which followed Shinichi on a trip back to Japan for otaku provisions, a journey where Myuseru stows away in a duffel bag. First we had Shinichi dreaming under the influence of the SDF’s knockout drugs, featuring a naked Myuseru, Petrarca (“I will submit to you, Master!”) and Elbia – but when Shinichi sees the naked figure with long blue hair turned away from him he mumbles a desperate “I need to wake up.” Then we had the “Attack on Iron Giant” marquee outside the Akiba Animate – now that’s a mashup I’d pay to see – and Zahaal’s brilliant strategy to keep Petrarca from finding out Shinichi was away being to dress up in Shinichi’s clothes and try to talk like a Japanese teen (I can only imagine how ballistic she’d have gone if she knew Myuseru had tagged along). Then there was Myuseru’s preview dialogue talking about the perverted stuff that was originally in the script (again – blame the director).
In the end Shinichi never did buy any otaku goods to take back to Eldant (just a pair of panties) but it was fun seeing he and Myuseru ride the Chuo line and sample the eccentricities of Akihabara – not to mention the “half-elf meets washlet” moment (our second washlet joke this week). Of course Matoba’s lie about the atmosphere was obvious – I think the show is going to get a bit dark there before it’s done. And for the record, I’ve never seen condoms for sale from machines on telephone poles – but maybe they have those out in Nakano-ku…
Outbreak Company continues to skate out where the ice is pretty thin, but likewise continues to glide along pretty effortlessly. I guess it works because the show really is in on the joke, and just a little smarter than you’d think when it comes to executing it. It’s not exactly exploiting cliché or satirizing it, but deftly splitting the difference – so far it works pretty well. This is one of those series that seems well-suited for a single cour – 12 episodes is about what this premise seems to have built into it, and I think it can remain fresh and amusing so long as it maintains the delicate balance in tone that it has so far.